November proved to be a strong month for the quality market in the latest ABC print national newspaper results with The Times coming out on top as the best of the bunch with its biggest year-on-year growth in a decade.


The entire quality market for November was up on the previous month with The Times registering the best figures of all up +3.4%, boosting its circulation by more than 13,000 copies. This amounts to an almost +5% increase year-on-year, adding 18,400 copies to its circulation. Also performing particularly well out of the quality market was The Daily Telegraph with a 1.2% circulation increase over October.


While the quality market was up however, the middle and popular markets could not quite keep up the relatively good standard set in the previous two months print sales, and especially those of October.


Print results for November made for particularly bad reading for the Sunday Post, registering a drop in circulation of almost -10% (17,700 copies) and the Sunday Mirror which was down by -5% (39,100 copies). Daily Star Sunday however did manage to buck the trend of the Sunday papers by recording a boost in sales of 6.7%


How The Times came out on top?


The success of the quality market as a whole might be attributed to the Paris attacks. As for the particular success of The Times in November, editor John Witherow explains that “The Times were the only newspaper to carry the Paris terror attacks in its first edition and our thorough reporting and analysis of the chancellor’s spending review are two major news events reflected in the November ABC figures”.


Of all the national newspapers it is the quality market – including titles such as The Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, Guardian, and the Independent – that have remained the strongest in the face of an across-the-board year-on-year decline.


So, what is the reason for this success? Well, while other titles have seen a greater decline in numbers (largely as a result of the abundance of, and ease of access to, news sources available online) it is the publications that have retained a purpose or value beyond what the internet can offer consumers that have done best. As John Witherow argues, aside from the recent major global and political events it is the content that set The Times apart in November.


Like their print magazine counterparts it is because there is some perceived value offered by the quality newspaper market that is not quite matched by online editions. As the latest NRS PADD (Print & Digital Data) results demonstrated, magazines have retained very positive print standings with editions such as Heat, Top Gear and Men’s Health showing real strength.


Summary of ABC national newspaper results


While November did not prove so successful for the middle and popular print circulations they remain relatively consistent in number despite being in decline. As we have mentioned in previous blogs, the decline of print has been a much slower one than predicted, and – as indicated by the strong performance of the quality market this month – there remains a receptive audience for print content.


It is by paying particular attention to the reasons why particular results are happening and looking very closely at the specific reasons for and quantities of decline that brands and advertisers (not to mention newspaper publishers) can better determine how to best reach consumers.


In the case of these most recent results as media planners we can connect a pattern across the year for the relatively greater success of the quality newspaper segment, come to conclusions as to the reasons for this success, and then determine a media plan around this knowledge and research.


If you require help or advice in choosing the best channel to advertise your brand or business – be it through the quality newspaper market or elsewhere – why not get in touch. Our expert and friendly media planning and buyers will be delighted to help.


By Paul Gregson